There’s not many films that I can say are worth six hours of travel for, but Song of the Sea is one of them. An astoundingly beautiful and emotional animated film that sees ancient folklore find relevance in the modern day, its a film of the simplest, but nonetheless breathtakingly effective, pleasures. Situated in a mythical world halfway between reality and fantasy, its centered around Ben, a young boy who lives with his younger sister Saoirse and his depressed father Conor in a lighthouse on a cliff. Ben’s mother died shortly after Saoirse was born. Saoirse, however, is no typical little girl. Upon moving to the city with their grandmother, the already mute Saoirse becomes withdrawn, and progressively falls ill. Ben discovers that Saoirse (and his mother) are selkies, mythical creatures that can change into the form of seals when in water. He then goes on a journey to save Saoirse, and with her help, save the spirit world.
It’s a lovingly constructed film, one of beautiful visuals that are matched by an equally as strong narrative. Director Tomm Moore’s animation is made of intricate patterns, painstakingly intricate backgrounds even in moments of less magical elements. Even in the drab city, littered with power lines and smog and completely detached from the spirit world, Moore finds intricate, poetic beauty. Such beauty comes with great meaning, however. Moore’s narrative is one of love and belief, set at a time in its protagonist’s life, that of the end of childhood, where magic is being swallowed up by reality. Ben must race against time to save his sister, reality is starting to creep in. But as Saoirse returns to her true form and the world lights up, revealing its bright swirling patterns that spread far and wide, there’s hope. There’s hope for the magic to return to this world.